Sweden Striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic Retires From International Football

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has retired from international football after Sweden were knocked out of Euro 2016.

The 34-year-old announced on Tuesday the tournament would be his last and he would not represent Sweden at the Rio Olympics as previously thought.

He scored 62 goals in 116 games, but failed to net at this year’s Euros.

The former Ajax, Barcelona, Juventus and Inter Milan striker has been linked with a move to Manchester United since deciding to leave Paris St-Germain.

Sweden coach Erik Hamren paid tribute, saying: “In a small country like Sweden, you will not find another player like him. He’s really, really unique.”

Sweden failed to win any of their three Group E games in France, drawing 1-1 with the Republic of Ireland and losing to both Italy and Belgium.

“It’s heavy, it’s disappointing, but at the same time I enjoyed it,” Ibrahimovic said. “We got the possibility to play at the Euros and represent Sweden.

“I have many fantastic memories from the national team.”

Fifteen years of highs and lows

The 6ft 5in striker made his international debut as a 19-year-old against the Faroe Islands and went on to score in his first competitive match – a qualifier for the 2002 World Cup against Azerbaijan.

He announced himself on the international stage with a spectacular back-heeled goal in the group stage of Euro 2004 against Italy, but missed a penalty as Sweden were eliminated in a quarter-final shootout.

He was Sweden’s main attacking threat at the 2006 World Cup but failed to find the net as they were knocked out by hosts Germany.

He failed to score a single international goal for Sweden in both 2006 and 2007 – a period marred by clashes with management and a short-lived self-imposed exile.

Although he played and scored at Euro 2008, the disappointment of failing to qualify for the 2010 World Cup was just around the corner.

His appointment as captain for Euro 2012 qualifying reinvigorated him and he scored one of the best goals of the tournament with a volley in a 2-0 win over France, although Sweden were still eliminated at the group stage.

One of his greatest international displays came against England later that year as he scored all four goals in a 4-2 friendly win, including a magnificent overhead kick from 35 yards.

Sweden failed to reach the 2014 World Cup despite eight goals from Ibrahimovic in qualifying, although his 50th goal in a friendly win over Estonia meant he became Sweden’s all-time top scorer.

The qualifying campaign for Euro 2016 promised much – Ibrahimovic scored 11 times – but his international swansong was an anti-climax.

Sweden bowed out at the first hurdle with no wins, while Ibrahimovic managed just one shot on target in 270 minutes of football.

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